Round 21 – Richmond v Geelong: Automaton Cats …wait a minute!

From a Cat in the Wry

 

Part one…

 

Bugger the match report:

 

I probably said it all here…

 

Chris Scott the Diplomat

 

And here…

 

Round 14 – St Kilda v Geelong: GroundCat Day

 

Well done by Richmond – they wanted to win more than us, and understood all they need do was apply pressure and exploit our lack of urgency.

 

Underdog sides have a template to follow: man-up, wait for our customary tendency to handpass or kick sideways regardless of appropriateness, then hammer us for a turnover (or crowd our forward line while we continue practicing warm-up drills).

 

We’re playing like a team of robots, programmed by the past rather than reacting to the present. No doubt Chris Scott continued his policy of not addressing players after a loss. Chris wants to be in control of his emotions.

 

Early signs on Sunday were familiarly ominous. I said as much in a first quarter text to Lins, a Richmond fan.

 

That initial signage proved accurate and was leading down a one way street, so I took the dogs for a half-time walk around the back paddock, cold stubby in hand, mentally composing vitriol. No roos loose here, but some may beg to differ – just me and the mutts, a couple of sheep, and wind chill.

 

A side with a great culture, playing unsurpassed team footy has turned full circle into Old Geelong – kind of successful, but prone to bouts of inconvenient complacency. Like our Rio compatriots – we can make finals, but don’t expect us to be at our best when we get there.

 

The second half, meanwhile, continued according to hackneyed predictability. Did we forget it was Harry Taylor’s milestone game? We were flat Cat millionaires squandering opportunities, while Richmond increased their lead.

 

“GO TIGERS!!!” texted Lins, ensconced in a North Melbourne pub.

 

Reluctant to encourage further, I replied with: “This is a generated message from Telstra. The number you are trying to reach is in a black spot.”

 

The Tigers were 35 points up and deservingly so – It was the Cats, with Aussie Olympian-like underachieving that were getting up my goat.

 

Having a glass-half-empty kind of day, I turned to venting verbal spleen on this page.

 

Part two…

 

Time for partial recantation.

 

The above was prematurely penned following several amber brews and antagonism stirred by frustration in felines. Like our Olympic barrackers …er, commentators, I made an early call, but for a loss rather than their optimistic, gushing pronouncements of success.

 

Victory or defeat could still be snatched from jaws, and I had suffered memory impairment failing to recall Richmond fade-outs and our good last quarters this year.

 

We take the game on; Richmond try to save it. Chris Scott tries a different tactic and moves Taylor and Henderson forward. Cats prove human and play with passion. We begin scoring goals. I glance from computer screen to TV screen.

 

“This will test our resolve,” texts Lins.

 

We reduce Richmond’s lead and go ten points up. Unbelievable! Harry gets to play the hero.

 

“Black spot in nth melb,” Lins adds. “Sums up 2016.”

 

“Not over yet,” I reply – because now we, unfathomably, shift into ‘saving’ mode, executing the very play that caused our problems to begin with, inviting disdain of footy gods – it’s rare best teams (on the day) lose in Aussie Rules, and Richmond have clearly been the better side today.

 

But Lins is off the grid, and has exited the pub for the North Melbourne equivalent of circuiting the back paddock.

 

The Tigers goal through Vickery just to prove me right when I’d prefer less vindication. Only a kick in it! Fair dinkum.

 

Mojo restored and urged on by the Richmond faithful with rediscovered voice, the Tigers storm forward in the dying seconds. Footy fate should see them goal, but Jack Riewoldt’s own heroic, milestone attempt at a screamer fails, and the Sherrin is contained. Richmond’s ability not to win these games is better than ours.

 

Four points secures four points and, for now at least, a top four possie.

 

But, little of part one needs rewriting.

 

Our recent finals record is not much better than much maligned Richmond’s (one win from our past six). The media has been letting us off the hook, carrying over credits due to earlier premiership success (or else it is blithely unaware).

 

Coaches sell hope.

 

This could be a turning point.

 

Our guys are building a reputation.

 

Then worryingly – we have to work out why we couldn’t be at our best in such an important match.

 

Hardwick, meanwhile, is forecasting better fortune for Richmond next year.

 

Outside, in the back paddock, the setting sun glistened on grass, which isn’t rye, but has been reinvigorated by winter rain and is reaching for springtime prime. Birds tweeted. Was that silver lining yonder cloud?

 

Maybe today truly was a turning point, and the Cats can rediscover the sense of autumn excitement and be at their best for the season’s pointy end. …Perhaps our lapses this year have been a ruse and we have a secret plan to be revealed in September. …The haphazard forward entry might be a bonus if we can play with more urgency to get it there in the first place. …And don’t forget our record against top eight sides.

 

We wouldn’t barrack for a footy team if we didn’t have hope.

Comments

  1. “Richmond’s ability not to win these games is better than ours” is a perfect analysis of the game.

    The pretend auto-reply text message is genius!

  2. Citrus Bob says:

    Paul
    Did you know the last train to Geelong was cancelled on Sunday night? Too many passengers.
    unless we get the double chance one final will be enough. The double chance will make it twice as painstaking.

    I have always doubted whether Scott has a plan B now i know. Also find it difficult to understand how some players are imuned from being dropped. 22, 32 are the standouts and dare I say 3?
    Thanks heavens 4 will be back to stiffen up the back half.
    Time to stop reading the Adee boys!
    Citrus

  3. Earl O'Neill says:

    ‘Old Geelong’ is an interesting call, reminded me of the days when your almost namesake Brett played a few.

  4. Dear Citus don’t worry about those numbers if the crows play the cats again this year could you please organise for number 35 to have the game off ?
    Yours Sincerely
    R book
    Now seriously,Paul surely inside 50s and more particularly scoring shots do paint a slightly different picture of the game? Yes 35 pts up surprise surprise the tiggers grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory but was it almost inevitable ? thank you

  5. Geelong won whenC Scott stopped over coaching and let the players go. Scott would make a vegemite sandwich complex.

  6. Paul, is Geelong like the Australian Olympic team, believing its own hype?

    On a different tangent Geelong’s domination of Richmond since 1984 is quite intriguing. Off the top of my head, and i should do some reading on this, Richmond has only beaten Geelong six times in that period. I might have missed a match, but i recall the Tiger wins being in 90, 96, 97, 98, 99 and 06.

    If my memory is correct Geelong has pretty much owned Richmond over this period.

    Glen!

  7. Paul Spinks says:

    Just returned from an early morning walk around the paddock. Thanks for the comments.

    GIL: appreciate the positive feedback. A similar message response came in handy after the 2008 GF – coincidently to another Richmond fan, a family member not opposed to rubbing it in.

    Citrus Bob – your Geelong train comment is funny on a couple of levels. Careful, it’s been cancelled for just about every other reason, better not give them the ‘too many passengers’ excuse. From a footy perspective – chasing and applying pressure is the least players can do, and when they don’t it is probably my number one pet hate. A couple on your list can be guilty of viewing it as an optional extra, but there are more. In the last end-of -year swap meet I would’ve been inclined to trade 32, likeable fellow though he is, and keep a certain veteran forward.

    Earl – Good bloke, Brett (must be). Looked like he was going to set the world on fire for a minute. I reckon they could’ve persevered longer, but we were a bit flaky in those days. I don’t have any of his abilities – too many times removed.

    Rulebook – yes, I was being particularly negative (or wry?), but those missed shots etc are a result of minds not being right (Tige pressure aside) and ours weren’t right for another important game. Instead of a top two finish there’s a reasonable chance we’ll be playing you guys at the Adelaide Oval.

    Dips – you’re spot on. Being calm and rational is an admirable attribute, but he seems to undervalue the emotional, spontaneous aspects of the game.

    Glen – I’m seeing parallels with Rio – maybe it’s a viral thing. I try to ignore the record against Richmond, and am thankful the media has too, lest it inspire them. The Tigers have had it over us in the past, though, so when you’re on a roll let it play out and don’t reflect too much. It will be interesting to see how the Boomers cope with the extra talk and media attention now they’re in the Semis. They should be hungry though.

  8. Paul, when you said the Tigers had it over Geelong i assume you’re talking late 1960’s until early 1980’s?

    It certainly hasn’t been the case in the last 30 years.

    Glen1

  9. Paul Spinks says:

    You;re right, Glen. It has probably been since the mid 80’s. The win-loss ratio was heavily in Richmond’s favour then, but we gradually whittled it back.

  10. Paul i’ve just cross checked. Since 1980 Richmond have apparently won 14 encounters, Geelong 44. Does that sound right ?

    Glen!

  11. Oh no Tigers!!! Apparently they are looking at recruiting Cloke!! Do they never learn?

    And Hardwick has already said that they will play finals in 2017!!

    Ground Hog Day.

  12. Paul Spinks says:

    I imagine that’s correct, Glen, though I haven’t looked that carefully. I’m happy for this stat to keep flying under the radar. Otherwise it could become a target for action :)

  13. Paul Spinks says:

    Though, Dips, being retro for a minute, I was disappointed the Tiges didn’t go ahead and snap up Gary the Elder after Ayers gave him the flick, injuries or not.

    Haven’t heard the Cloke news, but on the surface seems like a bad move. I imagine there’s a bit of the father/son nostalgia going on here – and maybe about patching up past wrongs?

  14. Stainless says:

    Glen/Paul

    I’m happy to be brutally honest about our sorry record because it damn well needs to improve.

    Since 1984, Richmond has beaten Geelong once in each of 1985, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2006. The 14-44 record would include two wins in 1980, one in 1981, two in 1982 and one in 1983.
    It actually sounds quite respectable until you realize that it’s been 10 years since our last win against Geelong and there’ve been just two wins this millennium .

  15. Paul Spinks says:

    Stainless – the spell of Gazza? There was a game in ’89 when he played a blinder. I didn’t attend that day, but a Cat supporter told me Richmond fans were applauding him as well.

    One thing I’ve learned this year is not to suggest to Tiger fans that this could be a step-backwards season. I’m thinking of Geelong’s 2006 when I say it, but the response is usually along the lines of – how many step backwards are we meant to have? When turnarounds come it’s usually from the top down – followed by good recruiting – chemistry. The formula is secret, though.

  16. Yes Gazza loved Richmond. I was there in 1989 when he kicked 14. He wasn’t full forward, basically he drifted around the Geelong forward line that day. He also kicked double figure bags against Richmond in 1988 and I think in the G clash in 1990. When Richmond beat Geelong at Kardinia Park that year he was absent. I remember the 95 clash at the G, Richmond were undefeated, Geelong had lost one. Gazza kicked a lazy 7, Geelong home by 10goals +.

    Yep Gazza certainly liked the Tigers.

    Glen !

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